CULTIVATING LIBERALISM
FOR ALL CLIMATES
SINCE 1759
 
Google
 

Free alert to Candide's Notebooks
Your email:

JOIN ME AT MY BULLSHIT SITES

Flawed Reporting
Is Attacking Ford Dix Terrorism?

More welcoming than they imagined

Of course not. In the context of the unilaterally declared “war on terror,” it’s at most an act of war, more legally an act of homicidal madness, but an act of terrorism, it most certainly is, or would not, be.

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors announced, with an odd sense of triumphalism, that they’d arrested six individuals who’d allegedly planned to fire rocket-propelled grenade at Humvees driving around Fort Dix, the military base in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. First hint that there’s something odd going on—not on the alleged attackers’ part, necessarily. The Pine Barrens have always attracted the nutty and the mythical. William least Heat-Moon, in “Blue Highways,” tells this story, the real story behind the Hindenburg’s crash:

The gist was this a storm forced the Hindenburg into a holding pattern (that was a fact I could check out). The airship, only a few hundred feet off the ground, circled central New Jersey for two hours. Lakehurst, where it was trying to land, is on the edge of the Pines, and everyone knows Pineys don’t tolerate anyone poking into their woods, They figured the zeppelin was a government ship looking for their stills where they turn blueberries into whiskey, so they shot at the thing and opened leaks in the fabric. By the time the Hindenburg started to tie up, there was enough free hydrogen to blow the ship to kingdom come, which it did.

That was then. I don’t imagine it’s much different now. The Pine Barrens attract the nutty and the brazen. This case involves alleged illegal aliens: Four guys from the former Yugoslavia, one Turk and one Jordanian, itself an oddly multicultural assortment for a conspiracy that focused. The indictments make for terrific, if occasionally skeptical, reading. At one point one of the suspects contacted a police officer to complain about the man who turned out to be an informant, claiming the informant was inducing him into acquiring maps of Fort Dix. The officer contacted the FBI in front of the man making the complaint. It’s also curious that in this case the FBI chose to reveal all the details of their indictments (that triumphalism again), as opposed to following their usual protocol of matching the sensational with the cryptic and letting imaginations do the rest. The stories do read as if something was up. But they also suggest, at first blush, more madness than method, more idiocy than logic on the potential attackers’ part.

Then there’s the matter of “terrorism.” Every news report about this thing is (and will) refer to it as a foiled terrorist plot. But by definition, attacking military installations, especially in the context of a “war,” is not terrorism. Terrorism is the deliberate targeting of civilians to, well, terrorize. In the rules of war, absurd as they are, there are such things as fair targets. Military targets are among them. The fact that the base is in the United States (as opposed to Iraq or Afghanistan, say) is irrelevant. An attack on a military target cannot be an act of terrorism, whether it’s the Cole destroyer, whether it’s Israeli troops in Israel or the occupied territories or Lebanon, whether it’s American or Iraqi troops in Iraq, or American troops on their base in the United States. That’s not to diminish the gravity of what may very well have been a planed attack on Fort Dix (stupid as the attackers’ plan sounds). But it is to say that the reporting greeting this story is fundamentally flawed in its assumptions.

Bookmark and Share

| Back to the Front Page  
 
THE DAILY JOURNAL
Read Pierre’s Latest at


 
The Latest Comments
 
GOOGLE GOOGLE NEW YORK TIMES NEWSPAPERS NETFLIX UK INDEPENDENT NETFLIX
 
  
RECENTLY IN THE DAILY JOURNAL: NOTEBOOKS ORIGINALS
RECENTLY IN THE DAILY JOURNAL: CRUMBS & CRIBS

   
 
Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe in Rojo   Add to My AOL Subscribe in FeedLounge Add to netvibes Subscribe in Bloglines Add to The Free Dictionary